There is a story of Jesus and his disciples that makes me smile every time I read it. They were getting settled into the house after a road trip, and Jesus asked the disciples, “What were you guys arguing about back there on the road?” Busted! The disciples answered him with silence because he had caught them arguing about which one of them was the greatest. Here is the exact account:
“They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.'” Mark 9:33-37
As followers of Jesus there is a particular “way” we are to relate to one another and live out our lives together (Luke actually calls Jesus’ new movement “The Way” in Acts). Jesus formed a group with the 12 disciples to have a relational laboratory in which to teach the values of the kingdom of God. The “way” kingdom disciples are to live is to consider others more important than themselves and to serve one another. Form any group, and there will eventually be conflict. Jesus was able to use each conflict that occurred among His disciples as a teaching point to expose the source of the conflict and also to provide them with the solution. The solution was found in the example of Jesus himself. He said to them, “…I am among you as one who serves,” (Luke 22:27) and “…just as I did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
A discipler’s instruction alone is not enough to form the kingdom values in the heart of his disciples and their community. It requires the discipler to demonstrate a servant’s heart by his actions and attitude.
- It is in community that the discipler can both teach each disciple how to serve the others, and illustrate a servant’s heart by his own life.
- Conflict in your community is not a disruption, but rather an opportunity to move the community toward serving one another.
- Help each individual to identify opportunities to serve the other members in the group. (Do not assume that they are aware of opportunities to serve. Our eyes are tuned to see ways for people to serve us, rather than to see how we can serve others.)